Unjust approaches to wage inequality in the United States – a short essay

In a recent segment for ABC 4 Utah, Randall Carlisle reported on the controversy surrounding Jordan High School’s Young Democrats Club. The club, wanting to bring attention to the disparity of earnings between men and women, sold cookies to men for 1 dollar each and to women for 77 cents each. The segment features interviews with club member Karli Schott and with a few outside students, framed by narration from Carlisle. Unfortunately, I found that Carlisle’s dialogue, as well as the footage choices, subtly support patriarchy and white feminism.

Carlisle’s segment prioritizes male opinions on gender equality. Firstly, he was allowed to state that the notion of equal pay “sounds strange” (Carlisle). Editors also decided to include Helamen Matmata’s assertion that “a lot of women out there are just as good as men” (Carlisle), which insinuates that not all – only a lot – of women deserve equal pay. The segment, while constantly referencing the controversy behind the club’s affirmative action, does not acknowledge the controversial nature of such statements. Moreover, the segment includes student Jake Knapus’s complaint “I just don’t believe the statistics they’re using are correct. I would love to have a debate with them… But the fact that they tell me to go away is kind of disheartening” (Carlisle) while intentionally not giving the club’s side of the story. A separate article by Taylor Pittman for The Huffington Post, however, proves that this side exists, reporting Schott as having said, “We told them we would be happy to debate them, but only after they took the time to read the fact sheets we had printed up for the event… When we did that, they walked away”. Regardless of who was being truthful, Carlisle’s segment chose to exclude Schott’s perspective entirely, demonstrating patriarchal demonization of gender activism. Pittman’s article also includes her statement “I’m so proud we did it”, which contrasts with Carlisle’s declaration “Schott’s dad says he’s proud of Karli”. By intentionally replacing Schott’s feelings of pride with her father’s, Carlisle implies that the uninvolved man’s opinion is more important. It supports the patriarchal notion that women are simply extensions of their fathers, always requiring their approval. Moreover, by prioritizing male opinion on gender equality, the segment implies that gender activism is only valid when it receives male approval.

I also think that the segment prioritizes whiteness, cisness, heterosexuality, and able-bodiedness. While it is true, according to the National Women’s Law Center, that a women typically earns 23% less than a man in her field, this is only true if both parties are white, straight, cisgender, and abled. Neither the club nor the segment considered wage inequalities for other marginalized groups, such as the examples listed below (note: the numbers are averages, as earnings also depend on other factors).

Table 1

Examples of Wage Disparities in the US

Group

Percentage of earnings Data source

White (non-hispanic), cis, straight, abled men

100% (“the dollar”)

(Openly) gay and bisexual men

79% of the straight man’s dollar The Williams Institute in 2014

(Transitioned) trans men

78.5% of the cis man’s dollar S.E. Smith in 2014
White women 77% of the white man’s dollar

National Women’s Law Center in 2013

Black men 73% of the white man’s dollar

“”

(Transitioned) trans women

68% of the cis man’s dollar S.E. Smith in 2014
People with disability

64%a of the abled man’s dollar

Michelle Yin, Dahlia Shaewitz, and Mahlet Megra in 2014

Black women

64% of the white man’s dollar

National Women’s Law Center in 2013
Hispanic men 61% of “”

“”

Hispanic women 54% of “”

“”

a.Varies greatly, depending on the disability/disabilities.

This table does not even make an intersectional analysis, failing to consider the earnings of, for example, transgender latino men, who make only around 54 cents to the dollar (Smith).

In theory, the bake sale had students with disability, as well as non-white, non-straight, and/or trans students, paying the same for a cookie as students receiving higher earnings than them. Moreover, because they are male, students of colour and students with disability would have had to pay more for a cookie than women receiving higher earnings than them (see table 1). I also wonder how students outside of the gender binary, unacknowledged in the segment, would have been accommodated; would they not have been allowed to purchase a cookie at all? Although it would have been much more complicated to host an accurate bake sale, I believe the effort required would have been worth the awareness it could have spread. The segment, however, failed to question the whiteness of the bake sale’s feminism – all it questioned was the feminism. Although Knapus’s concerns could have been with the club’s exclusions, the surrounding context made it seem like he did not agree in the existence of any wage gap. This is another example of footage being manipulated in order to support power structures existing in the United States.

To conclude, I find that news content in the United States, even when addressing topics of social justice, continues to be patriarchal, white supremacist, heterosexist, transphobic and ableist. Randall Carlisle’s segment for ABC 4 Utah, for example, conveys patriarchal ideas while also failing to challenge white feminism, thusly supporting it. I believe that the news, as many citizens’ go-to source for truth and morals, must get better for unfair power structures to collapse. Furthermore, I wonder how the news operates in other countries.

Word Count: 900

Works Cited

Ashton, Deborah. “Does Race or Gender Matter More to Your Paycheck?” Harvard Business Review. Harvard Business Publishing, 10 June 2014. Web. 06 Apr. 2015.

Carlisle, Randall. “Gender Equality Bake Sale Causes Stir at Utah High School.” Good4Utah. Nexstar Broadcasting, 17 Mar. 2015. Web. 06 Apr. 2015.

“INFOGRAPHIC: Evidence of Discrimination: LGBT Employees in the Workplace.” The Williams Institute. University of California, Los Angeles, Mar. 2014. Web. 06 Apr. 2015.

Pittman, Taylor. “High Schoolers Charged Men More At A Bake Sale To Highlight The Gender Pay Gap.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 24 Mar. 2015. Web. 06 Apr. 2015.

“Closing the Wage Gap Is Crucial for Women of Color and Their Families.” National Women’s Law Center. National Women’s Law Center, Nov. 2013. Web. 06 Apr. 2015.

Smith, S.E. “Advocacy Organizations Must Not Ignore the Wage Gap for Transgender People.” RH Reality Check. RH Reality Check, 09 Oct. 2014. Web. 06 Apr. 2015.

Yin, Michelle, Dahlia Shaewitz, and Mahlet Megra. “An Uneven Playing Field: The Lack of Equal Pay for People With Disabilities.” AIR. American Institutes for Research, Dec. 2014. Web. 06 Apr. 2015.

Combatting gender based violence

Ashley Judd, famous actress known for her role in the movie Divergent, recently spoke out about online gender violence through her personal experiences. During a Sunday night basketball game, Judd tweeted that the opposing team was “playing dirty & can kiss my team’s free throw making a—“(Judd). After Judd sent out this tweet she received back numerous tweets that were misogynistic and filled with gender based violence. Judd stated that “tweets rolled in, calling [her] a cunt, a whore or a bitch, or telling me to suck a two-inch dick. Some even threatened rape, or “anal anal anal”” (Judd). What I find most of all disturbing is that after these misogynistic, violent, and sexist tweets were released, many others failed to recognize the overall harm. This is a big reason why movements fighting gender-based violence are crucial in our society. Judd states that many tweets declared that she brought this violence on herself, she deserved the threatening tweets due to her whininess and lack of humour (Judd). Judd is incredibly passionate and determined to end gender based violence on Twitter, but it is important to notice the point of view she is writing from. She is a white heterosexual female speaking from an upper-middle class perspective which inevitably includes some degree of bias. Ashley Judd’s incident on social media is unfortunate but is not uncommon, previous to her experience there has been incredibly large activist movements that are organized to combat gender-based violence. This essay will discuss more thoroughly a movement commonly known as “SlutWalk” that takes place yearly in Toronto. SlutWalk is a feminist movement combatting gender-based violence, rape and the autonomy of female bodies. This essay will argue that although SlutWalk beneficial in some aspects, it fails to be inclusive which becomes problematic when trying to achieve a common goal.

Gender-based violence is an unfortunate reality of many people, but often it is not brought to the publics attention unless the victim is white, heterosexual and likely influential. Specifically, gender-based violence becomes more problematic when African American women are involved because race is an underlying factor to the violence being experienced. Another common target group for gender-based violence would be trans sexual and trans gender individuals. Recent studies on trans people showed hat “20 percent had experienced physical or sexual assault due to their identity, and that 34 percent were subjected to verbal threats or harassment” (DiMenna, Hillary). Seeing as black women and trans women are a primary target of gender-based violence one would assume they need SlutWalk just as much as any other group of women. The main issue that black women have with this movement is the use of the word “slut” seeing as the history of this word particularly pertains to white women bodies and thus joining the walk would in an attempt to reclaim this word would be ineffective (An open letter from Black women to the SlutWalk).

Trans women are another group excluded from the SlutWalk movement. Veronika Boundless responds to SlutWalk Chicago expressing her concern with the lack of trans inclusion in the movement. She states four reasons why it is crucial that trans individuals are included in this movement, one reason being that “the popularity of the stereotypes of the transsexual prostitute and the stealthy deceiver play into the slut-shaming of trans women and trans feminine people” (Boundless, Veronika). Slut shaming is one of many reasons why movements that combat gender-based violence are needed in society. Slut-shaming, or publicly shaming a woman because of the way she expresses sexuality, is another aspect of gender-based violence and is demonstrated in Judd’s twitter incident. I chose to search on twitter some of the tweets aimed at Judd after her March Madness tweet and it was horrifying to see tweets related to Judd’s incident that involved not just men slut-shaming but also numerous women slut shaming other women.

SlutWalk fails to be an effective movement for many reasons, one being the lack of intersectionality shown through the exclusion of trans and black individuals. An infamous example of the failure to be intersectional comes from a poster an individual participating in the walk paraded with, which said “Women is the N*gger of the world”. This poster only emphasized the divide between black and white women which involves the white privilege that white women receive versus the racism that black women receive daily. However, this does not deny the legitimacy of the harsh experiences white women go through when it comes to gender violence and rape, but there are other groups that need recognition as well. Overall, I find it incredibly important to fight for an end to gender based violence, but the way which this is done can be difficult to accomplish. In order for a movement such as SlutWalk to be successful, it would need to be intersectional and inclusive of all groups of women.

Works Cited

  • Judd, Ashley. “”Kiss My Ass”: Ashley Judd Stands Up to Threats, Fights for Women Online.” Mic. 19 Mar. 2015. Web. 8 Apr. 2015.

Martese Johnson and Institutional Racism in The United States

On Wednesday March 18, 2015, a black University of Virginia (UVA) student, Martese Johnson, was brutally beaten and arrested by state- run Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) agents (Cathcart). The events transpired outside of Trinity Irish Pub, a local bar near UVA campus, after Johnson, 20, was denied entry (Cathcart). The owner of the pub, Kevin Badke noted in a recent press release that he had spoken with Mr. Johnson prior to the incident, stating that the young man “did not appear to be intoxicated in the least”, and was “cordial and respectful” during their conversation (Cathcart). At this time, Martese Johnson has been charged with public intoxication and obstruction of justice without force, but due to wide-scale public outcry, the governor of Virginia has called for an investigation into the actions of the ABC agents (Cathcart). Due to the particulars of this case, the beating of Martese Johnson has become international news, with many maintaining that Mr. Johnson is victim of police brutality. Unfortunately, stories of racialized police abuse against black bodies are nothing new in America, as there have been many highly publicized events of that nature in recent history, and countless others which have received minimal, if any, media attention. Using the highly public case of Rodney King, (which shares similarities to Martese Johnson’s case) as a lens, this blog will argue that black bodies are targets of state violence and neglect in America due to deeply entrenched systems of white supremacy and racism. BlackLivesMatter, a new American black activist movement, may phrase it best, as they include in their mission statement that black lives in America are “systematically and intentionally targeted for demise”, while being “deprived of basic human rights and dignity”(BlackLivesMatter).

Perhaps the most infamous incident of racialized police brutality in America took place on a Los Angeles highway on March 3, 1991, in which several white police officers beat and tased Rodney King, a young black man, nearly to death. King was the driver in a high-speed chase resulting from a police pursuit for an alleged speeding violation (Hate-Motivated Violence: The Rodney King Case). King had not acted violently towards the LAPD officers after he eventually stopped his car, and made no attempts to resist arrest, as is evident in a video shot by bystander George Holiday (Hate-Motivated Violence: The Rodney King Case). King was fiercely struck with a police baton 56 times, while being repeatedly kicked. Though King was clearly unresponsive, unarmed, and posing no threat to the safety of himself or others, twenty-three other officers who were at the site watching the beating made no attempt to end the brutality (Hate-Motivated Violence: The Rodney King Case). The three officers were criminally charged and placed under investigation after the video of King being beaten surfaced, but on April 29, 1992, all three were found not guilty of any offense (Hate-Motivated Violence: The Rodney King Case). The blatant negligence of the jury in this case rightfully incensed many Americans, primarily those in black communities. Shortly after the jury had rendered their decision, riots broke out all over LA, resulting in widespread destruction and death – being responsible for 50 deaths and one billion dollars in damage (Hate-Motivated Violence: The Rodney King Case). The rioters, and countless others disturbed by the jury’s verdict saw that American power structures, such as the justice system, still protected the racist ideals of white domination that had been present in the founding of the United States.

Did the highly public King case, which gripped an entire nation by exposing America’s civil rights shortcomings, improve the way black lives are treated by the state? Did it prove to be the watershed moment for sparking complete equality that it was often hailed to be? The answer, it seems, it a regrettable, but resounding no. In fact, recent numbers surrounding this type of institutional racism are shocking. According to USA Today’s analysis of FBI data collected over the past 7 years, roughly 1 in 4 of citizens killed by the police had resulted from white-on-black shootings (Hannan). The fact that only about 12% of America’s population is black, and America’s police force is not made up entirely by white bodies, makes this statistic even more staggering (United States Demographic Statistics). In fact, a black civilian was killed by a white police officer twice a week over the past seven years, and killed every 28 hours by police or vigilante law enforcement (BlackLivesMatter). Although these FBI statistics, as numbers often do, fail to properly highlight the devastating human tragedy and loss associated with this issue, they shed an intense light on the horrific marginalization and subjugation of black bodies all across America. One only needs to go as far as turning on the news, and to hear the recent stories of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, and Eric Garner, to understand the heart wrenching pain of these situations; a pain intensified by the glaring negligence of the American legal system to pardon all of the killers of these murdered men.

Black communities in America know they are unfairly and disproportionately made victims of the state, and are the least trusting of the police out of any other ethnic group in the country: with only 38 percent of black people expressing any sort of confidence to the police (McKay). The number displays a large disparity when compared to other groups, as 55 percent of Hispanics express a level of confidence in the police, as do 68 percent of whites (Jeffery). This lack of trust for law enforcement and judicial institutions is understandable, since black bodies are disproportionately the victim of police brutality, and lethal force. A second reason why black people posses these high levels of mistrust, is that, according to to recent data, 98.9% of excessive force violations filed against police are ultimately ruled as justified, and dismissed by the courts (McKay).

Although it is impossible to change the course of Martese Johnson‘s horrific night in March, there is something that must be done. Racist ideals stemming from the era of colonialism must be proven to be extinguished. The violent ABC agents must be held fully accountable for their actions, which hopefully would send a worldwide message that black bodies in America are equal to all others, and will no longer be targets of state violence. Because, after all, #Blacklivesmatter.

Works Cited

BlackLivesMatter. “Every 28 hours a black man, woman, or child is murdered by police or vigilante law enforcement.” Black Lives Matter. Web. 26 Mar. 2015.http://blacklivesmatter.com/about/.

Cathcart, Corinne. “Bar Co-owner Says Martese Johnson Was ‘Cordial’ the Night of His Arrest.” ABC News. Web. 26 Mar. 2015. <http://abcnews.go.com/US/bar-owner-martese-johnson-cordial-night-arrest/story?id=29818409&gt;.

Hannan, Mark. “Police Killings Data.” USA Today. Web. 26 Mar. 2015. <http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/08/14/police-killings-data/14060357/&gt;.

“Hate-Motivated Violence: The Rodney King Case.” Hate-Motivated Violence: The Rodney King Case. Web. 26 Mar. 2015. <http://www.nizkor.org/hweb/orgs/canadian/canada/justice/hate-motivated-violence/hmv-006-00.html&gt;.

Jones, Jeffery. “U.S. Minorities Less Confident in Police.” Gallup.com. Web. 26 Mar. 2015. < http://www.gallup.com/poll/163175/minorities-less-confident-police-small-business.aspx&gt;.

McKay, Tom. “One Troubling Statistic Shows Just How Racist America’s Police Brutality Problem Is.” Mic. 18 Aug. 2014. Web. 26 Mar. 2015.
< http://mic.com/articles/96452/one-troubling-statistic-shows-just-how-racist-america-s-police-brutality-problem-is&gt;.

“United States Demographic Statistics.” Infoplease. Web. 26 Mar. 2015. <http://www.infoplease.com/us/census/data/demographic.html&gt;.

Gender Equality Discussion Hampered By Poor Use of Language

ABC Good4Utah’s Randall Carlisle reported on a gender equality bake sale, where boys were forced to pay $1.00 for each item, whereas girls were only charged $0.77. The idea was to show how gender inequality was unfair, and while the bake sale was generally a good idea, the language associated with the bake sale and used in the article leaves room for improvement. The organizers of the bake sale were promoting white feminism more than anything, and the reporter used language that wasn’t as neutral and open-minded as one would expect from a reporter.

The organizers of the bake sale, all high school students, were pointing out how unfair the wage gap, and more broadly, gender inequality is. While this is true, the figures they used in their explanation revealed the lack of intersectionality in their fundraiser. While the wage gap is definitely a real thing, the $0.23 wage gap doesn’t take into account all the different marginalized groups women can be a part of; it is a number that only applies to white, cisgender, heterosexual, able bodied women. Black women in America make $0.64 for the white man’s dollar, and Latina women make even less- only $0.53. [Anderson] Trans women are hit even harder, making 32% less than what they’d made pre-transition. [Smith] It is also well documented that men of colour also suffer from the wage gap- black men make $0.75, and Latino men make $0.67 to the white man’s dollar; both figures are less than what a white woman makes in comparison to a white man. [Ashton, Infoplease] Disabled people, whether it is men or women or someone who fall outside of the gender binary, also generally make less than the white woman, if they even get hired at all. [Omaye] The bake sale doesn’t account for any of these marginalized groups; in fact, if you fell outside of the gender binary, would you have been able to purchase anything at all, without having to adjust your personal identity to fit the organizer’s standards? The bake sale is part of a bigger movement for gender equality in the workplace, but if the movement is based on a statistic that doesn’t account for anyone besides the white woman, is it really going to help anything? If your brand of feminism is white feminism, as opposed to intersectional feminism that fights the patriarchy for the benefit of both men and women (and everyone in between and outside the gender binary), how much change are you going to create? As Jake Knaphus, a student at the high school that hosted the bake sale said, the statistic that started it all is not necessarily correct and merits discussion. [Carlisle]

However, further analysis of the article reveals that the way the situation was reported on makes the bake sale seem more problematic than it might actually be. Though Jake Knaphus said he wanted to debate the statistic, we as readers don’t know how he approached the club. We don’t get to see the club’s perspective, so we are led to believe that the club members sent him away without giving him a chance, but whether or not this is true is not evident in the article. As is common in the patriarchy, the male’s opinion is given precedence, to the point where we don’t even get to hear the other side of the story. The story also focuses on the controversy of the bake sale, as opposed to the actual issue of gender inequality; instead of a discussion around how the bake sale came to be and why, Carlisle reports on how much debate it started around the school. While discussion was the point of the bake sale, so was awareness, but Carlisle doesn’t report on that at all.

There is also some problematic language used to discuss the issue in the article. A quote used in the article state that women deserve equal pay because “a lot of women out there are just as good as men out there”. This is problematic in two ways; first it says that women deserve equal pay because women work just as hard as men, not because women are inherently equal to men. Secondly, it doesn’t say that all women are equal, only that a lot of women are, again implying that a woman’s worth is dependent on whether they are as good as a man. Reporting on the issue this way shows how the reporter is still unaware of how the patriarchy is affecting the way he reports. Carlisle doesn’t dispute the statement, thereby implying that he supports it, thus proving that he is not reporting from an unbiased perspective.

In conclusion, this article is an example of how white feminism is not as effective as it appears, and of how poor reporting can make a situation seem more problematic than it actually is. The bake sale is based on a generally good premise, even if its lack of intersectionality is less than ideal, but the reporter presents it poorly, thereby making it seem worse than it is, while also supporting the patriarchy.

Works Cited

Anderson, Jessica Cumberbatch. “Wage Gap Hits African-American, Latina Women Hardest, Report Shows (INFOGRAPHIC).” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 29 Jan. 2013. Web. 8 Apr. 2015.

Ashton, Deborah. “Does Race or Gender Matter More to Your Paycheck?” Harvard Business Review. Harvard Business Review, 10 June 2014. Web. 8 Apr. 2015.

Carlisle, Randall. “Gender Equality Bake Sale Causes Stir at Utah High School.” Good4Utah. ABC, 17 Mar. 2015. Web. 8 Apr. 2015.

Infoplease. “The Wage Gap by Gender and Race.” Infoplease. Infoplease, n.d. Web. 8 Apr. 2015.

Omaye, Jayna. “Study: Workers with Disabilities Paid 10% Less.” USA Today. Gannett, 23 Oct. 2013. Web. 8 Apr. 2015.

Smith, S.E. “Advocacy Organizations Must Not Ignore the Wage Gap for Transgender People.” RH Reality Check. RH Reality Check, 09 Oct. 2014. Web. 8 Apr. 2015.

Concerning topic #2 and black masculinity in North America – a short essay

In a recent speech for Keppler, Laverne Cox commented on the fact that trans women of colour experience much street harassment, and have the highest homicide rate of the LGBT community. However, she sympathized with the black men who have harassed her, theorizing that they see her as a disgraceful “embodiment” of the emasculation that black cis men suffered during the eras of slavery and Jim Crow. I would like to expand on her theory by suggesting that transmisogynoir (hatred of black transgender women) among black men also comes from the aspect of their oppression that holds them as less ‘masculine’ than white men. This essay will argue that popular portrayals of black cisgender men are what have caused some to lash out at black transgender women.

There are detectable patterns within cases of harassment and killing of trans women in North America. As suggested by Ms. Cox, it is often done by cis men, and soon after the realization that the woman is trans – to oppose outward previous sexual interest. I theorize that cis men use verbal and physical violence to regain the sense of masculinity ‘lost’ by expressing interest in trans women. In North American society, men are disciplined to display masculinity through heterosexuality, sexual prowess (e.g. catcalling), and violence (Fields). Many hold the incorrect notion that trans women are really men, and thus that attraction to them is ‘gay’; therefore, they may express embarrassment about this attraction, and a desire for redemption, with violence.
As suggested by Ms. Cox, the situation is very particular within the black community. Throughout history, colonialism and cultural imperialism has held men of colour as more effeminate and therefore somehow inferior to white men. Uchenna Offor describes the oppression of black men in particular during the eras of slavery and Jim Crow:

Black Men were not allowed to perform the duties of what is considered masculine because it would allot power to the Black Race. The controlling images of the Coon, Brute, Tom, and the Picaninny were all ways to degrade and hold Black men to a lower esteem. Although stereotypes of being lazy, ignorant, child-like, angry, overly strong, over sexed, crazed, animalistic were constructed out of the Jim Crow era, these stereotypes are still commonly used when depicting Black Men in media.

Moreover, the fetishization of black masculinity during slavery, as described by Ms. Cox in her speech, lives on, albeit less violently, in works of media such as “Django Unchained” (Cook). It is and has always been an attempt by white men to control black men. As Ms. Cox suggested, the trauma of such oppression, which continues to exist, may pressure black American males to have to prove their masculinity and make it their own. In a short documentary by Byron Hurt an interviewee stated, “We, unlike white males, had to earn our masculinity… because of the difficulties of being able to obtain a sense of masculinity, because of our past, it became the most important thing to us”. Avery Jonas spoke of many black men having to obtain this sense of ‘cool’ masculinity through gang activity, due to economic oppression preventing opportunity for advancement (Morss). Moreover, street harassment would be an easy way to associate oneself with hegemonic masculinity. I theorize that transmisogny may exist among black cis men for the same reasons as they do in all cis men, but that additional pressures may motivate additional aggression. Moreover, with masculinity defined as the absence of femininity (Fields), transmisogynoir is very particular within the black cis men who believe that black trans women give in to white supremacy by denying masculinity.

The media continues to contribute to this aggression by offering no solution. According to Charles Gause, “National broadcasts of African-American males being apprehended by law enforcement locally and regionally is a daily ritual”. However, I have noticed that in news reports of black-on-black violence, speech is usually used to demonize the aggressor rather than sympathize with the victim. This is not the case in situations where the aggressor is white, and/or the victim is white and cisgender. The priority does not seem to be to end transmisogyny, but rather to enforce racist stereotypes of black men. Moreover, there is never any contemplation on this black violence as the possible result of white supremacist patriarchy. Especially without this consideration, constantly representing black men as “studs, pimps, players and criminals” (Jackson, 87) in news and in fiction implies that their violence is somehow biological. This parallels the way that black American slaves who revolted were thought to be sick (Naragon). In result, all black masculine culture, even non-violent, is demonized – taken back ‘under control’ of white supremacy. It is implied that black masculinity, as a resistance of white supremacy, must be contained, and this has ‘justified’ the unfair number of incarcerated black men (Gao).

To summarize, white supremacy has historically branded black men as less ‘masculine’, and therefore inferior, to white men. The operation of this oppression has evolved but still demonstrates similarities to the eras of slavery and Jim Crow. In result, black men may feel additional pressure to meet the constructed standard of masculinity through sexual prowess and aggression. This aggression tends to be directed towards black trans women, who are accused of surrendering to white supremacist ideas. This poses questions about how transmisogyny might be operating among other races victimized by colonialism and cultural imperialism.

Word Count: 900

Works Cited

Cook, Robert. “Black Masculinity in Narrative Media Part 3: Noble Savages.” Web log
post. World Within Logos. WordPress, 10 Aug. 2013. Web. 9 Mar. 2015.

Cox, Laverne. “Laverne Cox on Bullying and Being a Trans Woman of Color.” YouTube,
19 Dec. 2013. Web. 9 March 2015.

Fields, Errol Lamont. “Codebook First Draft: October 2007.” Racial Identity, Masculinity
and Homosexuality in the Lives of Young Black Men Who Have Sex with Men: Implications for HIV Risk. Maryland: Johns Hopkins U, 2009. 248. Web. 9 Mar. 2015.

Gao, George. “Chart of the Week: The Black-white Gap in Incarceration Rates.” Pew
Research Center. Pew Research Center, 18 July 2014. Web. 11 Mar. 2015.

Gause, Charles. “The Social Construction of Black Masculinity: (Re) Presentations in the
American Pop Culture.” Gradnet. Miami University of Ohio, Oxford, n.d. Web. 9 Mar. 2015.

Hurt, Bryon. “I Am a Man: Black Masculinity in America.” YouTube, 30 Oct. 2006.
Web. 9 March 2015.

Jackson, Ronald L. Scripting the Black Masculine Body: Identity, Discourse, and Racial
Politics in Popular Media. Albany: State U of New York, 2006. Web. 10 Mar. 2015.

Morss, Paige. “Avery Jonas ’16 Discusses Black Masculinity in the Media.” The
Phillipian. The Phillipian, 22 Jan. 2015. Web. 9 Mar. 2015.

Naragon, Michael D. “Communities in motion: Drapetomania, work and the development
of African‐American slave cultures.” Slavery & Abolition: A Journal of Slave and Post-Slave Studies. London: Routledge, 1980. Web. 11 Mar. 2015.

Offor, Uchena. “Masculinity: A Depiction of White Manhood vs. Black Manhood.”
Gender, Sexuality, & Women’s Studies Program. University of Pittsburgh, 7 Nov. 2011. Web. 9 Mar. 2015.

Freedom of Religion vs. Civil Rights

My mother is a very devout Christian. She makes sure to go to church every Sunday, abstain from evils such as alcohol and rap music, and has read the entire bible cover to cover. Being religious comes with a lot of rules. Raised catholic, most of my rules came from the bible. Most of them are nice rules, such as “love your neighbor” and “help the less fortunate”, but some of them are pretty nasty.  Romans 1:26-27 teaches specifically that homosexuality is a result of denying and disobeying God.

Hebrews 13:4 condemns those who practice premarital sex. These laws are probably pretty familiar to you. Living in a Christian-centric society, a lot of these rules became socially accepted. People who break these laws are discriminated against, persecuted, abused, and even killed. A lot of the people who enforce these laws the strongest are religious. Their religion says that these people who have broken the rules deserve to be punished. Since we have freedom of religion, does that mean they have the right to discriminate? Doesn’t that overlap with our right to be treated fairly? Whose rights are more important?

Fox Detroit wrote an interesting story about the clash of freedoms. A doctor refused to provide service to a family with two mothers because her religion denounces homosexuality. Legally, a doctor can’t turn away a patient based on their sexuality, but they can refuse treatment if said treatment goes against their religious or moral beliefs. So far the doctor hasn’t been prosecuted, but has faced some negative feedback from many people.

This story reminded me of an incident which occurred at a Colorado bakery last year. Two soon to be husbands tried to order a cake for their wedding, but were denied due to the store owner’s religious views. Denial of services due to race, gender, or sexual orientation is prohibited under Colorado state law, and the couple defeated the store in court.

While the bible frowns upon abortion, homosexuality, sexual freedom and divorce, those aren’t the only rules it has for humankind. Other taboos include wearing clothing of two different types of fabric, working on Sundays, Planting more than one kind of seed in a field, and eating shellfish. In fact, the bible mentions shrimp as an abomination 4 more times than homosexuality. Why don’t I see hordes of angry suburban white families protesting red lobster with signs condemning the evils of seafood?

People pick and choose what parts of religion are convenient for them. While they’re busy labeling a woman who is comfortable with her sexuality a “whore”, they’ve forgotten to love one another as Jesus would love them. After all, Jesus used to hang around with hobos, tax collectors, and prostitutes because they were the ones who needed guidance most. In conclusion, while religion can be a tool for spreading peace and love, it unfortunately can also be used as a shield for one’s own personal prejudices.

Works cited:

The Holy Bible, Containing the Old Testament and the New. Oxford: U of Oxford: Printed by John Baskett, 1719. Print.
Grieson, Paula. “Court Rules Bakery Illegally Discriminated Against Gay Couple.”    ACLU. Colorado Rights Blog, 06 Dec. 2013. Web. 11 Mar. 2015. <http://www.myfoxdetroit.com/story/28142401/doctor-refuses-treatment-of-same-sex-couples-baby&gt;

MyFOXDetroit.com Staff. “Doctor Refuses Treatment of Same-sex Couple’s Baby.” Fox 2 News Headlines. Fox News, 18 Feb. 2015. Web. 09 Mar. 2015. <http://aclu-co.org/court-cases/masterpiece-cakeshop/&gt;

Blog Two: Trans Gender Violence and Trans Misogyny in the media

In her speech, Laverne Cox explains the unique intersectional experience that black transgender women face on a daily basis doing activities such as walking to the subway. A vast majority of trans women face discrimination and mistreatment on a daily basis and Cox’s speech specifically focuses on the intersection of racism, sexism, misogyny and transphobia that occurs when women are catcalled on the street. Part of her speech which I would like to further discuss is the problem with street harassment, violence, and media depiction of trans gender women and why conversations including these topics are important to have.

Misogyny is a societal problem that is rooted in the idea that women and femininity are inferior to men and being a woman automatically places you at less value. This mind-set gives some the idea that violence and harassment whether it be vocal or physical, is acceptable. Trans-misogyny specifically targets women who were assigned male at birth but now identify themselves as women. Trans-misogyny manifests itself in many ways such as how many “violences committed against gender-variant individuals targets individuals on the trans female/feminine spectrum”(Serano). Unfortunately, being a target of violence and discrimination is the reality of many trans women. Trans women risk street harassment and violence 8% of the time compared to cis-gender women and do not have cis-gender privilege. What I mean by this is that that if they were to report this violence, often times police officers will continue the harassment or do little about it (Dylan Finch). In 2010, the National Coalation of anti-violence projects found that out of all murder crimes committed against LGBTQH (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and HIV infected) 44 percent were trans women (Hammer). This is evidence enough to believe that violence and discrimination against trans women is simultaneously anti trans and anti female and understanding trans-misogyny as only anti trans or only anti female is neglecting its intersectional roots. Furthermore, “it can be expected that [any trans woman] will be unfairly interrogated because apparently all trans women are people who provide commercial sex, simply by virtue of walking and being a transgender woman”, which is otherwise known as trans-objectification (Dylan Finch). Trans- objectification is a process in the bodies of trans individuals is reduced to their body parts and others get pre-occupied with medical procedures may have been undertaken (Serano). Laverne Cox in her experience walking to the subway exemplifies trans-objectification on a daily basis. The two men who were harassing her were so caught up in gendering her that they end up objectifying and reducing her to nothing but her external appearance.

The topic of gendering and trans objectification is important when looking at ways trans women are depicted in the media. Julia Serano points out in her piece called “Whipping girl” the two ways trans women are shown on television or in movies. Either trans women are seen as the “deceptive” or the “pathetic”, both of which are incredibly inaccurate depictions as they portray trans gender women as having one goal which is to achieve ultra femininity (10). Simply put, deceivers are those who successfully “pass” as women and others generally see this as a threat, versus the pathetic who claims to be a woman trapped in a mans body and is generally not seen as a threat. The most important part of the way that the media depicts trans women is that it makes the audience believe that the goal of all trans women is to live out some sexual fetish and the way to do this is through appearing ultra-feminine. This view is evidently problematic because those who do not have knowledge on sexuality outside the binary might interpret what they are seeing on television as truth and thus may carry the idea that trans women aren’t real women.

Penny Proud was a trans gender woman who was fatally shot in New Orleans and was the fifth reported trans woman of colour in the United States to be pronounced dead in the past month. Following her death, police misgendered Proud and focused on the area she lived in which neighbours reported to have prostitution. However, this had no direct correlation to the murder (Peck). Another problem arises seeing the way trans women and trans men are ignorantly misgendered in the news. The media is widely consumed that it has such an immense influence on the way people think so by misgendering and victim-blaming it sends a message to the public that trans individuals set themselves up for brutality, thus the trauma they endured is fault of their own. It is crucial that the way trans women are depicted in the media whether it be on television or in the news needs to adjust because it leads to violence, harassment and mistreatment.

Overall, trans women evidently are at a higher risk of harassment just based on their outward appearance and the general stigma that surrounds trans people. Furthermore, it is important to note the intersectional roots of trans misogyny in order to fully understand how to combat systems of oppression. I think for larger changes to occur in society, smaller ones need to start happening. These changes can start in the media seeing as it is one of the largest influences in modern western society. News reporters should start respecting the identity status of those who are trans gender, because mis-gendering only facilitates violence. and hopefully can extend its influence to start changing the mindset of individuals who lack proper knowledge regarding transgender individuals.

Works Cited

Dylan Finch, Sam. “Why Our Conversations About Street Harassment Need To Include Trans Women.” Everyday Feminism. 7 Feb. 2015. Web. 12 Mar. 2015.

Hammer, Ida. “Trans Violence Is Violence Against Women.” On the Issues Magazine. 14 Dec. 2011. Web. 12 Mar. 2015

Peck, Patrice. “Penny Proud Becomes Fifth Transgender Woman of Color Murdered in US in 2015.” BET.com. BET Interactive, 11 Feb. 2015. Web. 12 Mar. 2015.

Serano, Julia. “Trans Misogyny Primer.” Julia Serano. Seal Press. Web. 12 Mar. 2015.

Serano, Julia. “On the outside Looking in.” Whipping Girl: A Transexual Woman on Sexism on the Scapegoating of Femininity. Seal, 2009. Print.